A Pirate in the Kitchen

Those of you who read my blog regularly must have realized that I take a very Captain Barbossa approach to recipes. Take, for example, the recipe I posted in yesterday’s post about the Brazilian dish, feijoada. I took a quick look at the recipe, then basically changed everything about it…

For one thing, the traditional recipe is a cook-all-day affair that takes 11 hours. That didn’t work for me. I made it in an hour by cooking everything in the Instant Pot. Secondly, the recipe had 5 1/2 POUNDS of a combination of 7 different meats for 1 1/2 pounds of black beans. That’s WAY too much meat for me. I’m working towards a more plant-based diet for our family (better for us AND the planet), and trying to use meat more as an accent and flavoring than the main ingredient. Beans are such a protein-rich dish that there’s no need for tons of meat in them in my mind. At most I would put a pound of meat into a pound of beans.

However, the variety of meat in that recipe was interesting. Usually, I only have one meat in my bean dishes–usually ground turkey, ground beef, or sausage. As I mentioned in my Junteenth post, for the first time ever I added a ham hock to my red beans in addition to the sausage, but the ham hock was mostly to add flavoring over the longer cooking. However, while it smelled good, I didn’t find that the ham hock added a lot of flavor to the beans.

What was really intriguing to me from the Brazilian bean recipe was adding beef jerky to the mix. Cooking with beef jerky had never even occurred to me, let alone been in any previous recipe that I had ever seen. So that was what I really wanted to try.

With my black beans, I ended up adding 3 slices of bacon, 2 hot sausages out of their casing, and 4 ounces of beef jerky cut up into small pieces. I sautéed the bacon first, then once some of its fat can released, added a diced onion, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, and the sausage meat. Once those were cooked, I put in the beans (which I hadn’t presoaked), water, and the chopped-up beef jerky. I didn’t add any salt or any spices because I wanted to see what the beans tasted like just from the meat alone. I could always add that later if I wanted.

I cooked it on high for 28 minutes, waited for the pressure to release, and I was all done. I served up the beans, along with my caipirinha for Tequila day, and some raw cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.

Waiting for the verdict? These were the BEST beans I’ve ever made with meat. They had a smokier taste and smell than ever before, so they were closer to what I expected when I cooked the ham hock with the red beans. I thought they were plenty salty and spicy enough so I didn’t add anything. It was a hit with my son as well, who had two big bowls. Plus we listened to the Elton John concert from yesterday’s post and it was so much fun and really nostalgic for me. I recommend watching it before it become unavailable on Monday afternoon.

Last night at least, being a pirate in the kitchen really worked out for me. Take what you like from recipes, but make them your own, mateys…ARRGGG!


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